Last updated on October 18th, 2023 at 03:29 pm
Florida is known for its beautiful beaches, amusement parks, and vibrant nightlife, but it’s also home to one of the most iconic destinations for space enthusiasts – The Kennedy Space Center. Located on a vast 144,000-acre site on the east coast of Florida, Kennedy Space Center is the epicenter of space exploration and a place where you can discover the mysteries of space. From exploring the Space Shuttle Atlantis to meeting astronauts and watching rocket launches, you can experience the thrill of space exploration like never before. We really love the Kennedy Space Center and feel like it is one of those places that you can’t fully appreciate in one visit. That’s why it is a good idea to arrive with a game plan. Go to their website to answer 3 questions and get a custom itinerary or follow ours below.
We’ve been here several times and our plan always involves starting with the bus tour. Many people get overwhelmed by everything at the main complex and rush to get on the buses in the afternoon. The bus takes you around the launch sites, including the ones that are leased out to a private company called Space X. You will also travel past the massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). After viewing the launch pads, the bus will drop you off at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Here you are treated to a theater re-creation of the Apollo Launch and an up-close view of the Saturn V rocket. The giant hall where the rocket is housed is filled with information about all 17 Apollo missions. You can see the Apollo 14 capsule on display, touch an actual piece of moon rock, view the transformation of space suits over the years, and much, much more.
Space Shuttle Atlantis Building
Upon return from the bus tour, we head straight to the Space Shuttle Atlantis Building. One of the most popular and fascinating exhibits at Kennedy Space Center is the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Visitors can experience the sheer magnitude of the space shuttle in the shape of Atlantis, which is on display for you to explore. The Atlantis exhibit includes more than 60 interactive displays, simulators, and videos allowing visitors to understand the complexities of space travel and astronauts’ lives. You can also touch an authentic moon rock and watch a breathtaking movie about the Hubble Telescope
The experience starts with a short film about the shuttle program, after which you can view the shuttle up close, check out informative displays, and strap in for the simulated shuttle launch ride which is not to be missed! While inside the shuttle, you will see and hear explanations of the various features of the shuttle, including the main engines, orbiters, and boosters. The ride also helps to explain the different stages a shuttle must go through to leave the earth’s surface. You will feel the rush of the takeoff, the vibrations of the engines, and the G-forces experienced by astronauts all created by state-of-the-art special effects, which makes it a truly immersive experience.
Next, we pick an IMAX movie to watch. There are two IMAX 3D movies that run all day: Journey to Space gives an overview of NASA’s past space accomplishments, current activities, and future plans. A Beautiful Planet features footage of Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) and demonstrates the effects humanity has had on it over time. They are both really good, so pick the one that interests you most.
On our way back towards the exit, we enjoy wandering through a Rocket Garden. We are always awed by these actual rockets from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs and imagine them shooting off toward the stars. Their sheer size is astounding.
Heroes & Legends
We finish up with the Heroes & Legends building. It’s just inside the entrance so most folks stop on their way in. By saving it for the afternoon, it usually is not as crowded. This is a fairly new attraction that is meant to bring an emotional bent to your visit. It starts with an homage to heroism and a 4-D experience highlighting the dangers of space travel that astronauts subject themselves to. The Astronaut Hall of Fame honors the heroes in a grand, solemn room. Don’t go home without taking a virtual selfie with your favorite legendary astronauts as you learn their stories.
Meet and Greet with Astronauts
Kennedy Space Center’s Visitor Complex provides unique opportunities to meet and greet astronauts who have ventured into space. Keep your eyes open for VIP tours, where you get to take a picture and interact with an astronaut. Visitors can also attend presentations by astronauts and other real-life space experts, learn about the projects they are working on, and hear stories about their experiences in space.
Attend Live Rocket Launch
Witness the power and excitement of space exploration by attending a rocket launch in person. Kennedy Space Center schedules rocket launches throughout the year, and attending one is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Be sure to check the calendar to see if you can plan your trip around a rocket launch.
If you’d like to see all the Kennedy Space Center has to offer, we recommend coming back for a second day. You can even save money on a two-day pass!
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